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My website is a directory with an extensive URL structure with several location-based tiers followed by an establishment name.

E.g. /guide/qld/gold-coast/gold-coast-central/surfers-paradise/restaurants-dining/salt-grill

This seems to work for the search engines but it throws up a range of problems that I would like to fix. The above link would 301 redirect to this:

/establishment/1234/salt-grill

That way, if an establishment changes it's name or the political boundaries change, it can still be found and a canonical href will be used. This will cover establishments appearing in multiple categories, in much the same way Ashoka found out here: here

I should note, the results pages have the same URL structure and I do not intend to change that.

From what I see, Google isn't displaying sitelinks relating to this structure. The question is, will Google throw a strop if I remove the locational hierarchy from establishment URLs? I have received conflicting advice on how to handle this change, hence throwing it out for community opinion.

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No Google will definitely not throw you a strop if you implement your 301 and canonicals properly. What is going to happen is that it may take a bit of time before it finds out about your changes. It depends how often it revisits your pages.

Regarding sitelinks, this is an automated process. So, you have no control over it, except removing sitelinks. But, I would not go for that to remote old or obsolete sitelinks, just make sure your 301 and canonicals for these links are implemented properly. Just let Google figure it out and replace sitelinks by itself.

Give it time and patience.

  • Thanks JVestry. I've decided not to change the URL structure as radically as my question stated. But rather to include an entity ID in the structure. Thus /guide/1234568/qld/gold-coast/gold-coast-central/surfers-paradise/restaurants-dining/salt-grill However I still need to decide on a canonical link when the name 'salt-grill' changes – Rufyan Aug 18 '14 at 0:09
  • You are welcome. Don't forget to approve the answer if it answered your question. Cheers! – Jérôme Verstrynge Aug 18 '14 at 7:06

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